If you’re looking for a different type of holiday, and a different type of overnight stay, why not spend a night or two at a bed and breakfast? This type of accommodation might be costly for a family needing more than one room, but is great for singles or couples wanting an alternative to hotels or camping. Making yourself at home – without any of the work– is what B &Bs are all about.
I’ve used bed and breakfast accommodations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Manitoba, and have seldom been disappointed. Most offer a large room with private bathroom, or occasionally a shared bathroom. B and Bs don’t often have a pool, but they will have other amenities not offered in a hotel. Guests are usually welcome to share the lounge or living room to visit or watch television – or sometimes the room has its own TV. There may be a deck or gazebo to use, if you’re staying during the summer, and occasionally a hot tub. Rates are usually similar to hotels, occasionally cheaper, but include a breakfast – sometimes a full one or sometimes continental style. On occasion I’ve had an evening snack thrown in, too.
Bed and breakfasts have several advantages. One is the quiet – unlike a hotel with several guests, perhaps talking noisily as they pass your door late at night. In towns, most are located in residential areas rather than on busy downtown streets. There’s free parking available and friendly, informative hosts.
Another advantage is the opportunity to meet the people of the area you’re touring, or sometimes other tourists. Hosts and other guests will direct you to attractions, or perhaps just spend time visiting – much different from a hotel where guests tend to avoid each other.
My experience with B and Bs began in Newfoundland about 12 years ago, where I stayed at eight different homes. The accommodations varied, but that’s part of the fun; many I’d give top marks, and none would rate less than eight out of 10. The hosts were knowledgeable and went out of their way to be helpful. One couple even prepared a lobster meal for me! (I bought the lobster, and they cooked it.) Others suggested spots to visit – such as a tiny, picturesque fishing village well worth a visit. I felt like I’d actually met Newfoundlanders and listened to their ideas and views – something you don’t get from a tourist booklet or a geography text. “Make yourself at home,” was a frequent comment I heard.
On a recent Internet check, I discovered 71 listings on the Manitoba B &B site. The Canadian site lists even more (and not all are listed on these two.) Many are located in small towns or on farms, for a quiet getaway, but there are also half a dozen listings for Winnipeg – something we don’t usually consider when spending time in the city. If you don’t have Internet access, check theManitoba Travel and Accommodation Guide.
Many of Manitoba’s bed and breakfasts are heritage houses, and many offer additional attractions. Fairmount B &B, near Minnedosa, advertised lambing time in April, and this summer is offering “Culinary Tourism” packages. Walkinshaw Place south of Boissevain offers complimentary snowshoes and private cross-country ski trails in winter, and an outdoor hot tub all year. The Evergreen Gate B &B near Selkirk, offers packages for golfers, scrapbookers, fishermen/hunters and birders, as well as for small or medium-size weddings. And that’s just a small sample of what’s available.
Most provinces advertise B &Bs in their accommodation guides, or they may have separate booklets. Check with provincial tourism centres or on the Internet. Be aware though, that some hotels also advertise themselves as “bed and breakfasts.”
Offering your home as a B &B is relatively new here, though long a feature in Europe, but it’s something more Manitobans are taking up as a sideline. It isn’t for everyone since it means extra work, as well as an outlay in buying new bedding, towels, toiletries etc., but it can provide a little extra income if you’re ready to share your home with others.
As a middle-of-the-road alternative, a real bed and breakfast can be the way to go. It offers the comforts of home with a fine breakfast, served up in a warm and friendly atmosphere that no five-star hotel can duplicate.
– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba
Makingyourselfat home–withoutany ofthework–iswhat B&Bsareallabout.